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#61
Posted June 2nd 2008, 12:49pm
thaiobsessed wrote:I'll be there 6/7 at 7. Anyone know if it will still be BYOB? If so, anyone who's been have wine pairing ideas for Cheezit risotto (or their scallops or short-rib dishes). Thanks!


I'm also going on 6/7. My plan is to call the restaurant day of regarding the BYO situation.
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#62
Posted June 3rd 2008, 9:52am
Graham Elliot has received its liquor license and thus will be offering wine and alcohol as of tonights main opening.
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Graham Elliot Bowles
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#63
Posted June 3rd 2008, 10:38am
Thank you for clarifying. We have a reservation for tomorrow and I was wondering the same thing. Can't wait!
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#64
Posted June 3rd 2008, 1:34pm
ChefGEB wrote:Graham Elliot has received its liquor license and thus will be offering wine and alcohol as of tonights main opening.



Had a table reserved for Wed. (thinking that it was going to be BYOB) and just
canceled upon hearing that the corkage would be $35 per bottle. Would love to try GE's but now that the LL has arrived, I'm going to let them get a few months under their belt (so to speak) before I drop the $$$ on a fine wine and dinning experience. Maybe they will have a corkage free night at some point?
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#65
Posted June 3rd 2008, 2:36pm
Will be going Saturday night after Bluesfest. Reservation is for 10:30, might get there a little before that. Dining room is open until 11pm.

Thinking about hanging out in the bar/lounge instead. We would do this because we hate to be the last table in the place, rushing to finish dinner while the staff gives us the evil eye.

The GEB site mentions "bar snacks" but doesn't say what they are. We will be wanting something substantial as we will be starving. Which brings me full circle back to dinner. I'm thinking that it might still be busy as it is the "official" opening weekend but don't know.

Opinions? Ideas?
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#66
Posted June 3rd 2008, 3:20pm
hoppy2468 wrote:The GEB site mentions "bar snacks" but doesn't say what they are.


There is a "snacks" section in the on-line menu on the website with a number of interesting options.

Best,
Michael
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#67
Posted June 3rd 2008, 9:54pm
Well my wife got reservations for the week of my B-day, so while I will be a couple of weeks behind some of you, I will be there shortly

SSDD
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#68
Posted June 4th 2008, 10:40am
A $35 corkage fee is entirely defensible in Chicago (my opinion differs for wine country). In fact, GEB and others could get away with setting the fee much higher. At the end of the day, restaurants need to make money. The bottom line certainly takes a hit when your patrons are bringing in three bottles of Kim Crawford.

I'm not in the business, but find bringing your own wine to upscale, non-BYO restaurants rather insulting to the proprietors and, if applicable, the sommelier. However, I believe a narrow exception lies where one brings (and shares) a truly spectacular wine (1 bottle not on the wine list) that has sentimental value for a special occasion (i.e. anniversary).

As for Graham Elliot's wine list, it's clear that a significant amount of and equity when into creating it with Michael Muser of the Peninsula. And I'm certainly looking forward to the experience later on this month.
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#69
Posted June 4th 2008, 10:44am
I find a $35 corkage a bit high, if one is bringing a bottle that's not on the list. Yes, restaurants need to make money, but on slower nights they can do themselves a favor by offering lower corkage to bring in new and regular customers.
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#70
Posted June 4th 2008, 11:16am
alexi612 wrote:As for Graham Elliot's wine list, it's clear that a significant amount of and equity when into creating it with Michael Muser of the Peninsula. And I'm certainly looking forward to the experience later on this month.


What list are you looking at? The one on the website is pretty limited.
I'm sure the pairing are great but it's not much of a list at this point.
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#71
Posted June 4th 2008, 12:10pm
Had a great dinner last night at GE with my fiance.

Between the service and food, it was one of the better experiences we have had dining in the year+ we have been in Chicago.
Especially impressive was that this was during the first week.

Briefly on the food:

-Caesar was tasty and tangy and well plated. Brioche Twinkie was a nice nod
-Beet salad was great, perhaps one of the best composed salads w/ beets I have had
-Steak tartare was well seasoned and came together nicely w/ the bernaise panna cotta. Great but I may have liked the less doled up tartare I had last week at Sepia. But that is just me, I enjoy raw meat on a plate all by itself :)
-Gnocchi- this was a dish where I thought chef got a bit carried away. I think it could have been great w/ either asparagus or pasta- not both. (Truffles, and egg, and prob more rounded it out)
-Buffalo chicken- chef nailed this. A few breast nuggets on a celery/fennel and blue cheese slaw. Awesome
-Scallops w/ beans and eggplant and couscous. This was the one entrée we had and was very nicely sized. Scallops were cooked perfectly and the eggplant imparted the smoky tang that I was looking for (there was no chorizo crusting offered)
-Brownie dessert was decadent and great. I am sure you would want to eat every dessert but we were too full.

Room is loft like and large. A bit cavernous. Could get very, very loud on a Saturday. Entrees are in the low $30s- which I think is fine but may make some chicagoans balk.

Wine list is small and very well priced. Menu is awesome but where was the foie?

It was one of the restaurants that I am very much looking forward to returning to frequently. It hit the spot!

Chico
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#72
Posted June 4th 2008, 12:21pm
For what its worth, the wine list on the webpage was intended to simply give an idea as to the layout. Curret list will offer 60 bottle selections as well as by the glass offerings. As for the corkage fee, it is $25, not $35. Sorry if that was somehow misunderstood.
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#73
Posted June 4th 2008, 12:27pm
Thank you for clearing that up. A very fair fee.
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#74
Posted June 4th 2008, 12:33pm
mhill95149 wrote:
alexi612 wrote:As for Graham Elliot's wine list, it's clear that a significant amount of and equity when into creating it with Michael Muser of the Peninsula. And I'm certainly looking forward to the experience later on this month.


What list are you looking at? The one on the website is pretty limited.
I'm sure the pairing are great but it's not much of a list at this point.


Without question, the wine list is concise -- it's not going to be the familiar leather catalogue. I guess mhill's in the "size does matter" camp. There's nothing wrong with that point of view, but one could also argue that crafting a tight wine list is more difficult. To state that "its not much of a list," may be shortsighted.
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#75
Posted June 4th 2008, 12:41pm
alexi612 wrote:
mhill95149 wrote:
alexi612 wrote:As for Graham Elliot's wine list, it's clear that a significant amount of and equity when into creating it with Michael Muser of the Peninsula. And I'm certainly looking forward to the experience later on this month.


What list are you looking at? The one on the website is pretty limited.
I'm sure the pairing are great but it's not much of a list at this point.


Without question, the wine list is concise -- it's not going to be the familiar leather catalogue. I guess mhill's in the "size does matter" camp. There's nothing wrong with that point of view, but one could also argue that crafting a tight wine list is more difficult. To state that "its not much of a list," may be shortsighted.


From what the Chef has posted, I'll stand by my comments. I won't respond to your "Size matters" bait.

have a nice day Alex!
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#76
Posted June 4th 2008, 2:02pm
misterchico wrote:Had a great dinner last night at GE with my fiance.

Between the service and food, it was one of the better experiences we have had dining in the year+ we have been in Chicago.
Especially impressive was that this was during the first week.

Briefly on the food:

-Caesar was tasty and tangy and well plated. Brioche Twinkie was a nice nod
-Beet salad was great, perhaps one of the best composed salads w/ beets I have had
-Steak tartare was well seasoned and came together nicely w/ the bernaise panna cotta. Great but I may have liked the less doled up tartare I had last week at Sepia. But that is just me, I enjoy raw meat on a plate all by itself :)
-Gnocchi- this was a dish where I thought chef got a bit carried away. I think it could have been great w/ either asparagus or pasta- not both. (Truffles, and egg, and prob more rounded it out)
-Buffalo chicken- chef nailed this. A few breast nuggets on a celery/fennel and blue cheese slaw. Awesome
-Scallops w/ beans and eggplant and couscous. This was the one entrée we had and was very nicely sized. Scallops were cooked perfectly and the eggplant imparted the smoky tang that I was looking for (there was no chorizo crusting offered)
-Brownie dessert was decadent and great. I am sure you would want to eat every dessert but we were too full.

Room is loft like and large. A bit cavernous. Could get very, very loud on a Saturday. Entrees are in the low $30s- which I think is fine but may make some chicagoans balk.

Wine list is small and very well priced. Menu is awesome but where was the foie?

It was one of the restaurants that I am very much looking forward to returning to frequently. It hit the spot!

Chico


Nice review. What was the total bill, if you don't mind being asked?
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#77
Posted June 4th 2008, 3:42pm
Was there last Saturday, and drank to my heart's content since it was BYO. Now they have their liquor license!

Post + pictures over here: http://sweetestsangria.blogspot.com
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#78
Posted June 5th 2008, 8:43am
I had a very positive experience at Graham Elliot yesterday evening. The restaurant is running amazingly well for a place that was just opened. The room is beautiful and the staff are both extremely friendly and well acquainted with the menu. (As others have mentioned, they don't yet seem to have in all of their stemware yet, but that was the only evidence of a new restaurant I saw all evening.)

I started with the Gnocchi with asparagus, pecorino, a fried egg, and truffle oil. The gnocchi were delicious and the combination of flavors was thoroughly enjoyable. A really terrific dish.

My main course was prime rib of pork with a barbecue sauce and what I believe was a watermelon chutney. This dish was a little disappointing. It was presented beautifully (and the piece of meat is ENORMOUS and truly impressive looking). However, there were a couple of things I didn't love. The pork was, to my taste, a little over cooked (though not dramatically so). But I really didn't care for the watermelon chutney or the bbq sauce. The chutney was made up of chunks of fruit on top of the meat that had been marinated in something (or infused with it) that made them, to my taste, cloyingly sweet. Similarly, the barbecue sauce was a root beer barbecue sauce (an idea I love) that was again so sweet and "root beery" that it swamped all the other flavors. This was really too bad because the sauce was sitting under some amazing artisan grits that, when I got a bight without the bbq sauce were unbelievably delicious, but coated with the sauce really were not terribly enjoyable.

For dessert I had a gooey brownie, which was a wonderful brownie around a yummy salty/crunchy/delicious peanut butter with a fudgy sauce, ice cream, and crushed malt balls. Very yummy and very fun.

I also quite liked the wine list. Interesting choices at very reasonable prices.

All in all, despite some disappointment with my main course (I should add, everyone else I was with loved their main courses: the salmon BLT style and the short rib stroganoff), this was a very nice meal in a very nice atmosphere. I look forward to returning many times, Graham Elliot is a very welcome addition.
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#79
Posted June 7th 2008, 9:35pm
First Impressions

Cookie and I dined at GE this evening with an overall mixed impression. The highlight was the kobe beef tartare with Bearnaise custard, watercress, and hickory smoked ice cream: a fantastic blend of textures and flavors. The ice cream is a fantastic idea with this dish, perfectly executed. Also rating high was the beet salad with an astoundingly light cherve cream that just gave a mild impression of goat cheese, letting the beets really shine.

I was happy with the scallop/smoked eggplant/fava/couscous/garlicfoam dish. It didn't blow me away, but it was satisfying, well-balanced, and nicely executed.

The pork chop is a very large double-rib portion of pig. It reminded us both of the ribs that toppled Fred's car during the closing credits of the Flintstones. (Cookie said that she felt like the Top Chef contestants trying to butcher a hog.) For such a thick cut, the pork was surprisingly moist and tender, but nothing else on the plate really sung (grits, greens, pickled watermelon, sauce). This was as unbalanced as the scallops were balanced. It's a big plate that just doesn't hold together well. With this dish, I'd cut down on the meat, and amp up the presence of the greens (with more punch in the greens' flavor).

Of the two desserts we tried, I think both need to be scratched and re-worked. The "spiced krispie treats" are three big spiced rice krispie treats with a berry compote and a sauce. Honestly, how good can a rice krispie treat be? This dessert is lipstick on a pig, dressing up something that's just ok at best. (I'm not sure what we expected). I think these would do much better cut into little tiny squares and brought out with the bill, or maybe on the side of a house-made ice cream. On their own they don't work at all.

The second dessert was the peach "cobbler" which really just felt like peach shortcake. The word "cobbler" made me envision bits of crispy edges and a deep, caramelized flavor. This was a really sweet-tart hunk of cooked peach atop some syrupy, crumbly cake. I took two bites and handed it off to Cookie, who enjoyed the fruit.

My one other major food complaint is the lack of a beer list and a staff that wasn't sure about what beers they had (our waiter struggled to name two). Chef, if you're going to have attractive bar snacks like you do, then an attractive beer list is important. I did have a nice Spanish unoaked chardonnay.

The service is excellent, ever-present but relaxed and not in-your-face or pushy in any way. The space is surprisingly more conservative than I expected with all of its dark woods, drapes, and wine bottles and not a trace of artwork.

Overall, a solid B. The things that worked really shined but those that didn't were not colossal failures, just concepts that need re-working.

Best,
Michael
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#80
Posted June 8th 2008, 12:40am
I'll post a bit more tomorrow when my head is a bit clearer, but I was also at Graham Elliot's tonight and came away with a much more positive impression.

I will say, though, that the Kobe beef tartare was absolutely fantastic. Probably one of the better steak tartares that I've ever had.

More to come...
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I've started blogging about the Stuff I Eat
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#81
Posted June 8th 2008, 9:39am
Just returned from a Friday night at Graham Elliot. My wife and I experienced Chef Bowles work at Avenues two years ago and still talk about our wonderful meal there. Needless to say, we were excited.

The dining room was nicely decorated and not crammed full of tables, adding a nice vibe to the open loft feel of the restaurant. Between the music and conversation, the room was loud, but hey, it’s a relaxed atmosphere and people were happy to be there.

We are not wine aficionados and while the wine list was concise, I would be surprised if anyone could not find something to their liking. Add to this that the prices seemed VERY reasonable. Although our waiter offered no advice during our selection, we managed to get a nice white that we both very much enjoyed and really added to the meal. Unfortunate, the bottle was not well chilled before it was served and they had run out of tableside ice buckets, so our waiter had to store it behind the bar. This was not that big of deal however since he was very attentive and our glasses were never empty.

And then there was the food.

My wife had the beets, and it was wonderful. Crisp and clean and beautifully plated the portion was appropriate and the whipped Chevre was lovely. A perfect beginning to her meal.

I had the Caesar salad and it was okay. The dressing was nice, tangy with a hint of heat at the end that was very pleasant. The brioche however was a disappointment, especially the meager to non-existent mascarpone filling. The sardines were beautiful though and the plate was a true treat for the eyes.

For the main course, my wife had the halibut; it was well cooked and beautifully plated. Again, a winner and a testament to Mr. Bowles skill.

I had the scallops, which, sadly, were a disaster. The plating was unappetizing. The scallops were piled upon the bed of couscous and smoked eggplant. The colors were uniformly brown and muddy looking. There was some kind of green sauce underneath it all but it was almost invisible and added, to my palate, nothing to the dish beyond showcasing how truly bland and dull the dish appeared. The scallops themselves were not seared well and while they were not under-cooked, this was disappointing. Sadly, one did not even appear to have been cooked on both sides. This in and of itself was not the detriment of the dish; the scallops were still well cooked. The couscous, eggplant however was very, very smoky and salty it overwhelmed any other flavors the dish may have intended to impart. In truth, I was unable to finish it. I picked at two of the scallops and left the rest.

For dessert, my wife had the peach cobbler. Here again it was wonderful. Light and delicious and beautifully presented. I choose the spice krispie and was again really disappointed. It was three rather large, and dense rice krispies with a small scoop of ice cream and some candied strawberries. With three rice krispie treats, the amount of ice cream and strawberry to match them was insufficient. It seemed that the amount of strawberry and ice cream was more suited to a single rice krispie bar, which would have been more than enough for the desert. There was a rhubarb sauce as well that had none of rhubarbs wonderful tang and simply tasted like a very, very sweet melted popsicle. Again, I found the desert basically inedible and left it almost untouched.

And so that was our night at Graham Elliot. The wine was nice, the setting was nice and my wife had three wonderful dishes well worth the price. I however had a fine take on Caesar salad and two truly disheartening dishes that left not only a bad taste in my mouth, but an empty belly.

We’ll be back though and, if I had made different choices, I am sure I would be unequivocally singing the praises of Graham Elliot. As it stands however, I’m home now making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to feed my rumbling, mostly empty belly.
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#82
Posted June 8th 2008, 11:34am
I'll add post number 3 about Graham Elliot's first Saturday night...

We really liked this restaurant. There were four of us at the table, so we decided to use a little ordering power and taste a good sized portion of the menu.

We started with the cold section. The Kobe beef tartare was the standout for me. The horseradish ice cream was a very cool touch, unfortunately it didn't stand a chance against some AC issues in the room last night. What I thought was really neat about this dish was the fact that it still tasted like a very well executed, classic steak tartare, just with some flourishes thrown in. I also tried the Caesar salad. I liked the salad, but not as much as the tartare. I would agree that the brioche was a little light on the filling, but it didn't bother me. The anchovies perched on the individual pieces of romaine were outstanding. Another person at our table had the raw tuna, and she said it was excellent. It looked like a pretty gorgeous piece of fish.

Next we moved on to "hot". I went with the Milwaukee-inspired risotto. I had what turned out to be an earlier version of this dish at Avenue's on New Year's Eve. Aged cheddar, bacon, PBR-braised onions, green apple, and Cheez-Its. What's not to like? The green apple was the key to this dish, providing a nice counter-point to the richness of all of the other ingredients. I also tried the gnocchi with fried egg, asparagus, and truffle oil. A pretty rich dish, but eating the gnocchi in the same bite as a piece of asparagus and a piece of runny egg was just fantastic. The gnocchi was just a little over salted, but it didn't take away from the dish too much.

For my main course, I had the pork chop. A gigantic piece of meat that blew me away with how tender and juicy it was. I thought the watermelon chutney was a nice cooling touch on top of the meat. The grits and the greens I thought were both good, but didn't really blow me away. I thought the sauce, that had a distinctive root beer taste was fantastic. A back yard BBQ on a plate kind of a dish that I really enjoyed. The Wife had the lamb, which I thought was quite good from the couple of bites I had. It came with an Israeli cous cous that was very tasty. I had a bite of the scallops. I thought they were cooked perfectly (nice sear on the outside, a little short of cooked through on the inside). The whole dish had a bold smokiness that I enjoyed, but I could see how this might not be for everyone. The 4th member of our table had the halibut that was pronounced "excellent".

We had 4 desserts to share across the table. I wound up with the gooey brownie in front of me, which I was reluctant to share with the rest of the table. Basically, this is everything I love in desserts on one plate (chocolate, peanut butter, banana). The rice crispy treats were a big hit, especially when eaten in combination with the strawberry and rhubarb they are accompanied by (I have to disagree with the "lipstick on a pig" comment, I thought these were fun). I wasn't nuts about the peach cobbler, but I really enjoyed the creme brulee (probably because I was the biggest coconut fan at our table).

Service was outstanding. Our server Jim who we know from several other restaurants is a real pro. He guided us through the menu and wine list expertly. He and many of the other members of the staff we spoke to are very excited and very passionate about the food and the restaurant. Jim was also nice enough to bring out 4 glasses of Muscat with dessert.

After dinner we decided to hang out in the lounge for a bit and try some cocktails. I had the London Calling, which is their take on a Pimm's Cup. I'm no cocktail expert, but I really enjoyed the drink. Very refreshing on a hot summer night. While we were having cocktails, Chef GEB came out to say hello, and his excitement over what was going on was just great to see. He was definitely exuding a "now the chains are off" kind of exuberance.

I have always been a huge fan of Chef Bowles' cooking, so I probably went into this meal a little bit biased. We had eaten at Avenues while he was there 3 times, and enjoyed each meal immensely. So, it was so great to be in an environment that was completely of the Chef's design, eating the food that he wants to be serving in an environment that he wants to be serving it. Incidentally, strip out a luxury ingredient or two, add a bit more whimsy, and this is basically what he was cooking at Avenues. But now you can get it at about half the price, and you can wear jeans.

One other thing...the foie-li-pop is on the late night menu. Two for $7. We had a round before out appetizers and they were just as good as they were at Avenues. Frozen foie covered in Pop Rocks. One more reason to love Graham Elliot.
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-Josh

I've started blogging about the Stuff I Eat
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#83
Posted June 8th 2008, 2:29pm
jesteinf wrote:The Kobe beef tartare was the standout for me. The horseradish ice cream was a very cool touch....


You got horseradish? Mine was hickory-smoked. I wonder how many different flavors he has back there?
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#84
Posted June 8th 2008, 4:40pm
eatchicago wrote:
jesteinf wrote:The Kobe beef tartare was the standout for me. The horseradish ice cream was a very cool touch....


You got horseradish? Mine was hickory-smoked. I wonder how many different flavors he has back there?


LOL...you know what? I think the wine and cocktails may have clouded my memory on this one so you're probably right (although I could have sworn the person who served it to me said horseradish). Oh well, it still tasted great. And bringing in a super-cold temperature element made the dish that much more interesting.
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#85
Posted June 8th 2008, 5:16pm
jesteinf wrote:
eatchicago wrote:
jesteinf wrote:The Kobe beef tartare was the standout for me. The horseradish ice cream was a very cool touch....


You got horseradish? Mine was hickory-smoked. I wonder how many different flavors he has back there?


LOL...you know what? I think the wine and cocktails may have clouded my memory on this one so you're probably right...


hmmm. I wonder how much of your recap of the evening we should trust. ;) :)
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#86
Posted June 8th 2008, 5:22pm
eatchicago wrote:
hmmm. I wonder how much of your recap of the evening we should trust. ;) :)


The rest all happened, I swear :lol:
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#87
Posted June 8th 2008, 5:55pm
We were also there on Saturday evening, and I would say that I have mixed feelings about the food. To start, we ordered the spicy buffalo chicken, the risotto, and the gnocchi. For our entrees we had the honey and lavender chicken and the pork chop. We had the chocolate peanut butter brownie and the rice krispies for dessert. Not overly adventurous, but we brought our two year old daughter, and we always try to order stuff that she will likely eat as well. Unfortunately, that made the beef tartare off-limits per my wife.

Outside of maybe Budweiser foam and Pabst-braised onions (eatchicago -- at least you knew two of the beers already in house), there seemed to less creative license than I was hoping for with the whole comfort-food vibe. The menu descriptions were very straightforward, and I felt the execution on nearly all the dishes ended up being straightforward as well. None of the dishes had the synergy I was hoping for.

The service was very good for the infancy of the place, and everyone was very accommodating to our daughter. I thought the room was comfortable, although I was a bit surprised by the music. From ChefGEB's pre-opening description of the place, the last things I expected to hear were Juice Newton and Neil Diamond. :D All kidding aside, I would like to return sans daughter to more fully explore the place, including the cocktail menu and the bar snacks.
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#88
Posted June 10th 2008, 5:38pm
I'm going to be dining solo there tonight- I took a look at some of the photos and was trying to get a sense for portion sizing for one. As a reference, how do the sizes compare to a place like Sola or Crofton on Wells?
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#89
Posted June 10th 2008, 5:46pm
I would say portions are comparable to Sola (I haven't been to Crofton on Wells). The pork chop is pretty massive, but everything else is a manageable size.
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#90
Posted June 10th 2008, 5:59pm
jesteinf wrote:I would say portions are comparable to Sola (I haven't been to Crofton on Wells). The pork chop is pretty massive, but everything else is a manageable size.
Perfect, thanks! I'll write back and Yelp (my new hobby) on it as well.
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